Besides (or maybe for some: on top of) plenty of Sodom and Gomorrah, Amsterdam has a lively beer scene. Moreover, many have a tap-room for you to hang out, drink fresh beer and eat something to keep you going. There are actually so many breweries and bars that it is impossible to do them all in a day – for a good list, check out the map our fellow traveler and guide has put together. Therefore, this is not a complete guide, but a report on how we spent one Saturday in April.
Brouwerij de Prael – deprael.nl
Nobody likes to get hit by cycling tourists or to step over last night’s vomit. But there’s this gem in the tourist area of Amsterdam, just one grachten outside of the red-light district. De Prael is an elder in the beer scene and a social institution, hiring people with a past and giving them an opportunity for regular work. Unfortunately they also hired a marketing person and now the beers are not called after Dutch singers anymore – of the “your grandma used to love them kind” – but rather Weizen and Pale Ale. The beers are still well done, show restraint or balance and the Weizen is actually very tasty, even for non-weizen drinkers. The restaurant offers small snacks and bigger dishes, all on ancient chairs and tables, offering a quiet oasis in all the madness that’s going on outside.
De Bierkoning – bierkoning.nl
Across the city center is Amsterdam’s #1 bottle shop. Here we picked up a New England Style IPA by de Prael that was exclusively bottled for the store, as well as the newest creations by Tommie Sjef, a blender from Nothern Netherlands and currently quite the hype. There’s no taps or anything, but a small fridge with cans that you can take out, find a bench and gaze upon the wonders that is Amsterdam. We picked up some Evil Twin, Beerbibliothek, Urban Chestnut and Magic Rock as a “travel-thirst-quencher” and headed out again.
Oedipus – oedipus.com
A short ferry ride from the main train station is Noord Amsterdam (the ferry is free and for pedestrians and bikes only). Then deeper into an industrial section of what feels like an island (it’s not, it’s just separated by the river ‘t Ij) and you’ll end up at Oedipus. The area might be a bit grey, but inside you are hit by a rainbow of bright colors. The decoration is vibrant with plants and garden chairs. The windows are big and thus it feels like you’re outside even when inside.
There are plenty of beers on tap, and while Oedipus keeps it decent with the ABV they are keeping it naughty with the names, like Vogelen and Mannenliefde, which were also among our favorites. Rick Nelson of Oedipus told us to eat something, but we were too early: Kitchen opens at 17.00. Luckily there’s a “Whole Foods” like grocery store next door where you can buy food and sit in the food court. Don’t bring it back to the brewery though: They had issues with the trash.
Despite our bad luck with food, a lovely place and worth the trek.
Skatecafe – skatecafe.nl
On the way back we saw people hanging outside a nondescript brick building and upon peeking inside saw a skate pool and a few taps. The taps we ignored, but we had two different Dry & Bitter and one Branie beers, just because we haven’t had a beer in a while and to wash down the raw herring some of us ate at the food market.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ – brouwerijhetij.nl
Taking a different ferry back over the Ij river, we were looking for the last standing windmill in Amsterdam, which is part of ‘t IJ’s brewery complex. This brewery now belongs to Duvel Moortgart and it probably was mentioned in the last edition of the Lonely Planet: The place was packed and mainly packed with tourists. There are no flights, but you can get smaller pours (our guess is 2dl) of quite a number of taps. The beers were all good, but the place felt sticky and sweaty and just incredibly loud and uncomfortable. Hence we left even before finishing the beers.
Foeders – foeders.amsterdam
A new arrival in town, the bar has a sour focus with plenty of taps and most of them of the pucker kind. We all went for Alvinne, because Alvinne. They give you peanuts and the floor is littered with the shells. There are many special sausages on sale too, in case peanuts are not enough. The hosts were super friendly and very appreciative when we offered them a glass of the Framboise Boon (2009) bottle we bought. This is properly out of the way but you can easily reach it via tram. And with a supremely friendly atmosphere, great beers and the opportunity to feeling like locals, it is well worth the trip.
t Arendsnest – arendsnest.nl
This bar is one of the Morebeer places (think Beer Temple (international beers) or Craft & Draft (one liter growlers)) and it has to be a legendary bar by now, as it only sells Dutch beers. With the whole Dutch scene being very healthy, there’s always something new to drink or an old favorite to reconnect with. The bar is not even small, considering all of its rooms, but it is always packed when we get there. It is only a short walk from the core of the city and the, which, along with it’s Dutch focus, makes it a favorite for both locals and out of towners.
When you order a lot of beers like we do, they write the name on papers attached to the stem, what is always appreciated. We’ve had beers like Big Fat 5 by Uiltje, Zinder by Zeglis and Disco Bitch by Jopen here. Considering how well the bartenders are dressed, it is just one of the many signs that show with how much respect the beer is treated here.